The famous story of how General Dwight D. Eisenhower ordered German civilians to march five miles up the hill from Weimar to see the Buchenwald concentration camp has been told many times. But is this story really true? Not according to General George S. Patton who was there that day.
The famous photo above and the photo below were taken by Life magazine photographer Margaret Bourke-White on April 15, 1945 as a procession of German civilians from the city of Weimar were forced to visit the Buchenwald concentration camp. According to The Buchenwald Report, written by the prisoners at Buchenwald, Bourke-White had just arrived that day, along with General Patton.
General George S. Patton wrote in his autobiography that he visited the Buchenwald concentration camp for the first time on April 15, 1945. He wrote that he did not make a special trip to see the camp. Patton had visited the Ohrdruf sub-camp of Buchenwald on April 12, 1945, along with General Omar Bradley and General Dwight D. Eisenhower. Patton threw up when he smelled the 40 dead bodies in a shed at Ohrdruf. He refused to go inside the shed, but General Eisenhower famously said (regarding his visit to Ohrdruf):
I visited every nook and cranny of the camp because I felt it my duty to be in a position from then on to testify at first hand about these things in case there ever grew up at home the belief or assumption that “the stories of Nazi brutality were just propaganda”
General Eisenhower wrote in his autobiography that he only visited one camp and that was the camp near Gotha, which would be Ohrdruf.